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The Biomedical Model of Health

The bio-medical model of ill health has been at the forefront of western medicine since the end of the eighteenth century and grew stronger with the progress in modern science. This model underpinned the medical training of doctors. Traditionally medicine had relied on folk remedies passed down from generations and ill health was surrounded in superstition and religious lore with sin and evil spirits as the culprit and root of ill health. The emergence of scientific thinking questioned the traditional religious view of the world and is linked to the progress in medical practice and the rise of the biomedical model. Social and historical events and circumstances were an important factor in its development as explanations about disease were being found in biological systems of the body that contradicted the belief that linked causation to divine intervention or superstition. Cartesian dualism and Newtonian physics were influential in the academic world and there was a push to break away from the superstitions of the past. (Albrecht 2003 p: 15; Giddens 2009 p: 391; Barry & Yuill 2008 p 31).

By 1920 state regulation of medicine gave it enormous power with hospitals at the top of regional hierarchies. The profession was the first body to be consulted by government in matters of health. The model of health used by a society and individual cultures has important implications. The allocation of government money to fund healthcare is just one of them. Resources are allocated for the diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions and diseases. Social acceptance of a condition being referred to as an illness provides rewards including medical treatment, social acceptance of a sick role and financial benefits. Also the medical vi...

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